Zaanstad, the conurbation and local authority, came into being in 1974 after the merger of seven districts: Assendelft, Koog aan de Zaan, Krommenie, Wormerveer, Westzaan, Zaandijk and Zaandam.

It is the third-largest local authority in the province of North Holland, after Amsterdam and Haarlem. Zaanstad forms part of the International crossroads that is Amsterdam, while it also offers access to the quiet spaciousness of the North Holland countryside.

Zaanstad almost certainly owes the beginnings of its economic development to the invention of the farmer Cornelis Cornelisz., of Uitgeest village, who invented  the wind-powered sawmill. The invention was bought by the Zaandammer Dirck Sijbrands, and sawmills started to flourish in the Zanstreek within a very few years, with more than 200 wind-powered sawmills in Westzaan alone. This explosive growth brought with it further economic development.

Even as early as the 17th century the Zaanstreek was an important area. Hundreds of windmills were sawing timber, making paper, grinding spices and cocoa beans, etc. Zaans whalers voyaged the oceans and merchant ships sailed the seven seas in search of raw materials and trade goods.

The economic decline started in the late 18th century, during the period of French rule, which saw a long period of gradual decline. This is when the Zaanstreek lost its economic advantage. The area has always remained a centre of industry, though.

The historical heart of Zaandam lay in the town’s centre.  Zaandam is known for its space: space to build, space for industry, space to live and do business.

The Zaankanters call a spade a spade, wear their hearts on their sleeves, are proud of their birthplace and like to roll their sleeves up, spit on their hands and get to work.

Zaanstad is a great place to live, work and play.

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